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Australian Open: Medvedev stands in the way of landmark Nadal win

Rafael Nadal is chasing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title in Sunday's Australian Open men's final, but world number two Daniil Medvedev is a big obstacle standing in his way.

Nadal has been plagued by injuries in recent seasons but has rolled back the years in Melbourne, capitalising on the absence of Novak Djokovic and the early exit of Alexander Zverev in the top-half of the draw to tee-up yet another Major final.

The 35-year-old Spaniard is locked level on 20 Grand Slam wins with old rivals Djokovic and Roger Federer but has won only once previously at the Australian Open, with that success coming way back in 2009.

Since that win down under 13 years ago, Nadal has finished runner-up on a further four occasions, but now has his shot at a fairytale ending.

However, Medvedev claimed his first Grand Slam title at the US Open in September and is 1/2 to follow up at Melbourne Park. Nadal is 17/10 in his bid to make history.

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Nadal hoping to make up for lost time

With time seemingly running out, pressure is on for Nadal but he can take plenty of encouragement from his recent performances.

The Spaniard prepared for the Australian Open with a title triumph at the Melbourne Summer Set and he has carried that form with him into the first Grand Slam of the season.

Nadal was relatively untested in his opening four wins but raised his standards when required to overcome quarter-final opponent Denis Shapovalov in five sets and semi-final challenger Matteo Berrettini in four.

Those scalps show Nadal can still perform to a really high level on a hard-court, although there is no doubting his toughest test is still yet to come.

The Majorcan leads Medvedev 3-1 in their head-to-head battle but all three of his successes came over two years ago when the Russian was only 23 and still working his way to the top.

Were this to be another marathon match then you'd fear the worst for Nadal, with Medvedev's younger legs expected to prevail.

The 35-year-old won't go down without a scrap, however, and only once in his previous 29 Grand Slam finals has he failed to win a set.

Medvedev could spoil the party

Medevedev denied Djokovic a 21st Grand Slam title when winning the US Open in September and he will be hoping he can repeat the trick when Nadal takes his shot at history in Australia.

The Russian has not had things all his own way during his adventure down under, but he continues to find the answers even when placed under maximum pressure.

Medvedev has dropped sets in four of his six tournament wins and had to dig extremely deep to come from two sets down against classy Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime in his quarter-final battle.

The world number two then prevailed in four sets despite being booed by the crowd during his semi-final win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, with little appearing to faze the 25-year-old.

Those battling qualities and his power-packed serve make the Moscow man a worthy favourite to triumph in the Rod Laver Arena and he can be backed at 10/11 to win the first set and the match. You can follow the action via our Sports Live Streaming platform.

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